BICYCLE HELMETS

First while it's all good and well to promote wearing bicycle helmets using factual information sadly this is not the case. People are mislead and lied to about bicycle helmets and bicycle safety.

Worse still and the reason this site exists is that it has resulted in a law which criminalize a perfectly safe activity and in fact makes cycling more dangerous !.

First Bicycle helmets don't prevent collisions, they may in fact increase the chances of them occurring.
Second bicycle helmets were only ever intended as fall protection for cyclists that is all they are suitable for.

How useful is an Australian standard bicycle helmet in a vehicle collision - Not very - most cyclists who die now are actually wearing helmets some of the deaths are attributable to wearing helmet. Sadly the dead cyclists can't tell us if the helmet law or helmet contributed to their death.!

This website shows how to ride safely without misleading cyclists about helmets.

The Australian standard AS/NZS 2063.

Australian Standard bicycle helmets fail to stop deaths and injury in real collision situations so what is going wrong. The fine print accompanying the standard barely hints at its limitations stating only that is not intended for motor sports. !
The list below may offer some insight into the flaws of the Australian standard.

Helmet Standard failure

AS/NZS 2063 helmets are now acknowledged to have caused some types of injurys and deaths. The new standard plays catch up to the rest of the world. One notable change is the helmet strap can be elastic. The existing helmet straps have no give and have injured or killed people where the helmet or straps catch or are pulled in an accident.! The New AS/NZS 2063:2008 Bicycle Helmet standard now officially acknowledges a few of the problems listed below. No compensation if you are injured as a result of wearing a helmet even due to problems with the old AS/NZS 2063 (last revised 1996). And no guarantees offered with the new standard yet we are still forced by law to wear it.! Because of the labour party's helmet Law's we are mandated to wear their inadequate safety equipment by police even though many of them probably dislike doing this kind of crappy work.

  1. Bicycle Helmets are tested by delivering a measured blow against a standardized anvil to see if the helmet will break rather than measuring the actual effect of the induced forces on the brain.
  2. The force of the standard test impact is based on a standard person falling to the ground. There is no consideration of higher speed impacts i.e. motor vehicle collisions. Bicycle helmets are only designed and tested to help survive impact from a standing fall to the ground not high speed or even angular impacts. In many accidents the impacts are far harder and more complex such that a foam helmet can do little to prevent a fatal injury. A bicycle helmet offers as much protection in high speed collision as shirt would against a bullet.
  3. Many head strikes actually occur to the face, front of the temple or lower skull which bicycle helmets do not protect - an acknowledged deficiency in the standards. Impacts outside the protected area are common, the standard is a compromise at best. Helmets would have been even uglier, bulkier and still less comfortable to provide better coverage. Unless the user has tightened the straps to the point of discomfort a helmet will often deflect significantly under impact giving little protection at all around the edge or simply fall off in a collision.
  4. To compensate for the reduced cooling and people getting too hot most helmets have slots or holes to allow at least a little cooling. They still pass the standard since they are not tested against corner or point impacts. The unfortunate wearer of slotted helmet may well find it is ineffective against point or corner impacts, or worse still the slots or holes may catch and increase the effect of a rotational injury's which are not even considered in the standard.
  5. The Australian standard test impact is delivered with no angular force unlike a real fall or roll and ignores any affect of such forces.
  6. Realistic crash scenario impacts are not tested. Effect of Collisions situations where angular or softer or higher impacts can be made worse by wearing a helmet are not tested.
  7. Spinal and brain stem injury's are not even considered, yet helmets increase force leverage and potential damage in a fall.
  8. On soft surfaces a helmet spreads the force of impact over a larger area and can increase deceleration rates and add to angular torsion thus helmets are of little use on soft surfaces. There is no testing of this type of impact and standards testing even fails to consider that the person may roll or use their arms or shoulders to slow an impact, in this case the wearing a helmet increases the chances of and the forces of collision due to larger effective head size of around 25 to 50mm.
  9. On hard surfaces a helmet does little to reduce the force of a collision to your brain. Concussion and internal damage are hardly reduced and still more than sufficient to kill a person even without a fracture occurring.
  10. Modern car and vans panels and windows will deflect, break or collapse under impact, cars are even designed with pedestrians in mind, the effect of ones head hitting a vehicle panel or window may be made worse by wearing a helmet especially in the case of adults. Will a bicycle helmet reduce head injury No since most adults are far taller than a car bumper and against this type of impact is not actually tested at all. Wearing a helmet may even lead to greater injury. Is it better for the window you hit to break or to remain intact and thereby increase the force on your brain. !
  11. A typical skating helmet does not comply with the Australian bicycle helmet standard but they may provide better protection in some accidents than the approved bicycle helmet, you may fare better with a skating helmet even though it's not legal. The mandatory helmet laws deny the right to protect ourselves properly with better alternatives if desired. !
  12. Crushing type injury's are not tested, wearing a helmet may actually result in worse injury's in some situations.
  13. The straps can get caught and extra size of the helmet can result in greater angular twisting injury's or strangulation killing the wearer.
  14. It requires significant force to cause a skull fracture in most adults - many deaths are actually due to internal brain injury helmets do little if anything to prevent these injury's, in some cases it may be better to suffer a treatable fracture than suffer fatal internal bleeding resulting from tearing of the brain.
  15. Helmets increase the effective size of the head so the potential to hit ones head is higher. In some accidents a helmet may likely increase concussion or spinal injury's due to effective increase in head size. In a fall a people may roll or use their arms and shoulders to try to reduce head and spinal injury's but the extra thickness of the helmet gives them less space and room to avoid head injury no studies have been done on this problem at all, what we do know is in real crashes people wearing helmets die.
  16. Bicycle helmets are not compared with other clothing a rider may happen to wear for example a turban or cold weather clothing which also give protection.
  17. If the Edges of a bike helmet or the strap get caught in a fall it can lead to neck or spinal injury's even strangulation. Children are particularly at risk as they have weaker necks and proportionately larger heads and helmets for their size.

The Australian standard is used to sell foam at exorbitant prices but fails to make people adequately aware of it's true limitations. People are actively being deceived into thinking they are safe based on the reputation of "the Australian Standard", which was never intended to protect them from most of the injury's which they believe it does.

The deceptive nature and marketing of bicycle helmets as the be all to cyclist safety does not make people safer. Endorsement of this deception by enforcing their usage by law is great tragedy for common sense and liberty. It actually endangers cyclists in Australia.

Where does the liability lay when a cyclists are injured or killed when they are mislead to believe they are safe from harm by wearing one. If it were worn by choice the cyclist could make their own decision based on their style of riding as to if a helmet would make them safer or not.

Fact is the pro helmet law lobby can't handle the truth, they deceptive both themselves and the Australian government, they over exaggerate the dangers of cycling and deceive people about the purported safety value of bicycle helmets. Sadly the dead are unable to ask for a refund or claim the product failed to meet expectations or actually even caused injury's in some cases. But actual injury statistics tell a very different story to the one the pro helmet law lobby would have us believe the case is far from closed.

Once you realize the truth, is it any surprise then that Australians cycling safety record is actually worse than countries where people are not subject to deception and lies about their safety. A little know fact is in Australia's own northern territory the helmet laws are now rarely enforced. Under NT law those over 17 are no longer are required to wear helmets when off road or crossing roads. The result is cyclists in the NT are actually safer than other states where helmets continue to be mandated by law. Cyclists in the NT benefit enormously from the greater freedom they have and have more bicycle users per population in the NT than any other state. Compared to other Australian states where helmets are mandated they are actually safer than some other states. But for unknown reasons the pro helmet lobby still continue to bury their heads in the sand and carry on as if the sky is going to fall down once the law is revoked in other states. !

Motorcycle helmets laws and the far heavier stronger motorcycle helmets fail to make Australian motor cycle riders any better off than places where helmets are not mandated
So if far heavier and stronger motorcycle helmets are not sufficient to save motorcyclists from being killed, how is an weak foam helmet with half the coverage going to do for cyclists ! - accident prevention and removal of the mandatory helmet laws are the only sensible avenue.

secondary negative impacts of helmet wearing not considered.

  1. Fatigue.

    Everyone should be aware that fatigue is a major cause of vehicle road accidents. link Riding a bicycle requires physical exertion and cyclists can get very hot at times, since most people wear clothing their head represents a large portion of the cooling surface for a cyclist.
    Wearing a helmet reduces the ability to keep cool, sweat produced is unable to evaporate and provide normal cooling. To compensate the body produces even more sweat attempting to try to keep cool it's not just a comfort issue but it's a factor in getting fatigue, dehydration and heat stroke. Heat stroke is a serious and life threatening condition which kills many people, athletes including cyclists are in particular danger of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If not treated or handled properly shock, heart or organ failure leading to death can follow.
    Under the Australian mandatory bicycle law people are forced even under heat stress and often hot conditions to wear a bicycle helmet and are not allowed to take it off even if they felt it was causing them a problem, so people riding in a group or with a time constraint simply end up riding as best they can possibly to the detriment of their health. The recent death of a cyclist by heart attack during a difficult bicycle ride may have been partially attributable to his wearing a helmet.
  2. Long before the more obvious and serious effects just mentioned occur there are other effects on the rider of which they may not even be aware. Fatigue and heat stress can contribute to slowed reactions, loss of awareness and confusion often long before a person is aware of it placing cyclists at greater risk of being in an accident. The death of a cyclist is often due to their inattention or fatigue and not perceiving what would otherwise be avoidable dangers around them.
    I have heard of cyclists simply running into stationary vehicles and making other stupid mistakes which they would not do in a normal state of mind or when driving a car. Wearing a helmet may place additional heat stress on people and thereby contribute to their descent into a reduced mental state. In this way wearing a helmet may put people in great danger. I personally believe avoiding accidents is better than trying to limit the damage after they occur.
  3. Forcing someone to wear a helmet who then suffers unduly from the effects of heat would ordinarily considered a dangerous deprivation of liberty, a type of punishment or plain negligence much as would leaving a child or dog in a vehicle in the hot sun. Yet under Australian mandatory helmet law the police enforce this type of torture on people and apprehend and fine those who try to avoid the damaging effects of heat stroke. As the law currently stands in Australia a cyclist is not allowed to take off their helmet even for a few minutes to cool down. Tipping water into their hair to cool down is not possible when wearing a helmet. Thus many people ride in a less than comfortable state and placing themselves in danger.
    In Spain one of the few European countries which have bicycle helmet laws they at least recognize these problems and cyclists are permitted to remove their helmet during hill climbing or sprinting to permit better cooling.
    Australian bicycle helmet laws completely fail to recognize this danger they cause to cyclists, indeed Australian standard bicycle helmets do not have any cooling rating and the physiological impact of wearing one on performance and awareness has never even been considered as part of the standard.
    Also Note that in Spain helmets are not required in towns the Spanish laws seem targeted at racers doing long distance routes only.
  4. The extra mass and wind catching effect of a helmet may mean when you turn to look back for traffic you may wobble more, or even avoid looking back because of the danger it causes you, bicycle helmets are not tested aerodynamically for example when the head is turned it may be quite dismal at higher speeds. Most bicycles don't have mirrors, how does this affect the urban cyclist coasting down a hill who wishes to check back on the traffic what effect has it on their balance and behaviour yet another overlooked factor.!.
  5. Due to the endorsement by law and deceptive exaggeration of their protection cyclists are killed or been seriously injured due to a false sense of safety and greater risk taking as a result of wearing a helmet – don't let it cloud your judgement a bicycle helmet does nothing to prevent accidents, sadly people still ride around in helmets feeling invincible though,and even taking risks they would not take if they did not have a helmet on. Parents are mislead into thinking their children are safe by making them wear a helmet !. They should rather spend the time teaching them where it's safe to ride not buying helmets and making them wear them.
  6. That helmets weight actually becomes quite significant when considering spinal injury's. Extra helmet mass is added to a persons head which usually weighs around 5kg, as helmet is worn around the head it's mass and size has additional leverage and can increase rotational forces, that extra weight and leverage maybe be significant. For example an typical full face Approved Australian bicycle helmet weighs 1Kg or more and yet this performance aspect is not even considered, these helmets only have to pass the flawed standard test, potential spinal injury's are not even considered.!
  7. A bicycle helmet may produce audible turbulence and worse a full face helmet may muffle your hearing and restrict your peripheral vision. Bicycles often are without rear vision mirrors and it's important to be fully aware of everything around you, the vehicles you don't see or hear increase your risk. So while your helmet provides a false impression of safety, avoidance is far better than trying to limit the damage after an accident occurs.

An accident

One accident i actually witnessed in person was a cyclist crossing a road at around 20kmph was simply oblivious to the traffic accelerating from the nearby lights and took a direct broadside impact from a van at around 15kmph sending him flying sideways, the bike was bent up and the van window shattered. The very sore and bruised up cyclist indicated amazement at their own apparent lack of attention, the ambulance and police did the usual formalities I was asked about the accident as a witness, it was clearly the cyclists error. This individual was riding an expensive looking racer with drop bars which tend to reduce ones upfront view, and cause neck fatigue possibly a factor in their lack of normal attention, i guess they will be far more careful after that experience.

Sit up cycle link

Sit up cycle advocates an upright riding position as opposed to the body position of racer style cycles with the streamlined lowered head and closed chest. The racer position leads to greater fatigue and difficulty for the cyclist to observe their surroundings, the traffic and to balance. Racing bicycles also frequently use clip pedals which limit the ability to bail the bike in a fall or collision, and narrow high pressure light weight tires are less able to absorb vibration and more prone to railing and damage, the racing cyclist sacrifices safety for speed. Racing bicycles are fine for competitions on a closed road or dedicated paths and smooth bitumen. But in traffic and urban roads racing bicycle cyclists just happen to be the most likely to be injured or killed. Their safety record and higher incidence of injury should not be considered the norm for other types of cyclists nor should the requirement of wearing helmets be burdened upon other cyclists with more favourable and safer bicycle designs. LINK

Whiplash

In motor racing once an accident killed the driver in what appeared to be a relatively minor impact. The 5 point restraint harness held them in place securely but they died from a lower skull fracture caused by whiplash - the helmet they were wearing may have contributed to their death. As a result of this drivers in motor racing now consistently wear their head and neck support device ( HANS_device ) as well as a helmet.

Many people die not from a fractured skull but from brain stem and neck injury.
In the case of a cyclist taking a head first dive the natural reaction is to protect themselves by breaking their fall with their arms and rolling, a helmet can actually lead to them hitting and placing far higher pressure on their neck than if they were without the helmet.
In the worst bicycle accident I ever had, a miscalculated a jump kicked up the tail up so hard I catapulted up and over head first. I rolled and pulled my head under feeling my neck driven to an extreme angle, I survived but for 3 months after the accident I could barley move my head at all. I had neck pain and mussel sprains which took many years to completely heal. I realized after that had I been wearing a helmet it would have broken my neck completely.

Motorcycle Helmets

Motorcycle helmet usage in Australia is over 90% and motorcycle helmets are far stronger then bicycle helmets. But motorcyclists in Australia are around 10 times more likely to die than all other road users. Even a full face motorcycle helmet offers only limited protection and may in some cases actually cause injury and increase the risk of being involved in an accident. Our Bureaucratic over regulated laws and protectionist standards fail to protect people, drive up the price of safety equipment and limit choices while placing motorcycle users in discomfort and danger. In the same away as the Australian bicycle helmet standard lagged behind the remainder of the world. The following letter from a helmet manufacturer acknowledges one of the issues with the Australian motorcycle helmet standard.

From: Grant Sammut [mailto:addressremoved]
Sent: Tuesday, 10 February 2009 7:01
To: X
Subject: FW: Enquiry regarding nolan N41 classic plus
Dear X,
Your e-mail was bounced over to me from Italy, as we are the Australian importer of Nolan.
Glad to hear that you like your Nolan N-41 helmet, but sorry to hear that it's not cool enough for you in this heat.
Australian standards are different to everyone else in the world, and they have a special penetration test (and a few non safety related little technicalities that they have written in there as well...) that no other completely safe helmet in the world has to pass. They heat the helmet up, get a big spike and ram it through the helmet. If there is a vent on the helmet, they will aim for it because it is the weakest point. It is for this reason that we (and other manufacturers) can not import many of the more vented helmets that are worn safely around the world.
Unfortunately, we can not recommend, or condone altering the helmet in any way - as this will clearly compromise the structure of the helmet, it will no longer pass Australian standards, and it will be illegal for you to wear it.
Sorry I couldn't help,


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